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Oct 30th

Thrilling Dirty Dancing!

By Thia Cooper

It’s not often I don’t look forward to seeing any production at Milton Keynes Theatre!  However,  I have seen the stage version of Dirty Dancing and did not enjoy it.  I felt it didn’t convert to the stage very well and the performance was lack lustre.

Wow!  What a change!  All the things I missed are back in this performance.

The cast oozed enthusiasm!  Most of them played more than one part, showing their versatility and expertise.

Baby, played by Roseanna Frascona was superb and there was an obvious easy relationship between her and Johnny, played by Gareth Bailey.  What a fabulous dancer he is!  They both have great stage presence.

Claire Rogers, who plays Penny, is also an awesome, beautiful dancer.  It is impossible to take your eyes off her, even when others are on stage with her. 

The costume, set, video, staging and  choreography designers should also be congratulated. Completely beautifully coordinated.  The scenes with Baby and Johnny rehearsing in the corn field and water were very effective and I would be interested to know how they got the effect.

Lisa, played by Jessie-Lou Yates brought great humour to the evening.  Her portrayal of Baby’s rather goofy sister was excellent.  Her out of tune singing brought guffaws of laughter from us.

I imagine most people would recognise the iconic  ‘(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life’ scene, where Baby jumps into the arms of Johnny.  This was, this time, beautiful.  She looked as though she was gliding into his arms.  The anticipation of the audience was ecstatic, and then when the jump was executed the cheers were very loud!!!

I am still not convinced that if you need to have seen the film to be able to follow the story, but this performance left people on a high and a standing ovation was well deserved.

Another great success for Milton Keynes Theatre!!

Tuesday 21 October – (Friday 5pm & 8.30pm) Saturday 8 November

Tickets: £10 - £75

Box Office: 0844 871 7652

atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

Oct 9th

Nostalgic Dreamboats and Miniskirts!

By Thia Cooper

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I had had a horrible day!  The sort of day that needs something really special to put things back into perspective!  Thanks goodness then for my theatre night to see Dreamboats and Miniskirts at Milton Keynes Theatre!!

This delightful,  light hearted  60’s musical, is the sequel to Dreamboats and Petticoats and for the audience (of a certain age!) it is pure nostalgia.  The world changed so much during that decade!  And looking round the audience, the majority did seem ‘of a certain age’, including me!

Having failed to hit the hot spot with Dreamboats and Petticoats, Bobby and Laura need something to inspire them to try again to join the ranks of groups such as The Beatles.  We follow the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of that quest.

It was pointed out to the audience, that everything was sung and played live!  Challenging?  This  cast did it with ease.   They all seemed to be multi-talented!  The band doubled as backing singers and actors, the two girl saxophonists, played flute and clarinet too, acted,  and sang.  In fact all the cast did everything to a high standard!

The fashions brought back great memories too, although I think they could have been emphasised more in the first half as the second half was obviously based on the ‘Mary Quant’ look and were more authentic!

It seems unfair to mention individual performances, as they were all outstanding!  However, some of the renditions of the songs stand out.  Every song that included Tony (Alan Howell) benefitted from his smooth baritone voice.  ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’ sent shivers down my spine!  The simple guitar accompaniment (played by him) was a lovely contrast from the loud rocky numbers it followed.  The band was too loud at times, but it didn’t spoil anything.

Norman (Ross William Wild, a dynamic performer) and Bobby’s (Alex Beaumont) rendition of ‘Oh Pretty Woman’ was also stunning as was Laura (Elizabeth Carter), Sue (Louise Olley) and Donna’s (Anna Campkin) version of ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’.  Beautiful harmonies!

The production featured all our favourite 60s rock ‘n’ roll hits which left us singing all the way home!!

If you get the chance, see it, especially if you need cheering up as I did!

 

Monday 6 to Saturday 11 October

7.30pm

Weds & Sats Mats 2.30pm

Tickets £10 to £35

0844 871 7652

atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

Dec 12th

Peter Pan - Nottingham Theatre Royal

By GRAHAM CLARK
A huge crocodile on stage, David Hasselhof playing Captain Hook and Su Pollard looking like Lady GaGa's mother can only mean one thing: its pantomime time!

David Hasselhof as Captain Hook

The Nottingham production of Peter Pan is colourful and entertaining. CBBC presenter Barney Harwood plays a likeable Peter Pan as he flies across the stage many times throughout the production. Su Pollard makes a dramatic entrance via a huge mirrorball. It is not a new trick, Joan Collins made the same entrance a few years ago when she appeared in pantomime in Birmingham, though it still looks impressive.

Pollard, dressed in turquoise as a mermaid with a swishy tail sings a song entitled I'm Fabulous. She seems a natural choice for the part.

David Hasselhof commands the stage in every scene he is in. He allows the softer side of his Captain Hook character to come through too.

Billie Kay shines as Tiger Lily whilst Ben Nickless brings comic timing to the show playing Mr Smee. His rendition of 50 Shades of Sweets, where he reads out a story that mentions every sweet brand you can think of, is very funny.

The dancers never miss a beat, the jokes are as corny as ever and the costumes are lavish in this superb production. It is worth seeing just to watch Su Pollard singing Lady GaGa's hit, Applause dressed in her mermaid attire.  This is a pantomime that will be enjoyed by young and old alike.

Runs until Sunday 12 January 2014.

Tickets from: www.trch.co.uk
 
Nov 30th

An Interview With The Racist: Geoff Mills Talks To The Next Big Thing in Comedy

By G.D. Mills

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Six years ago Trevor Noah had never graced a stage. Now he finds himself on some of the most high profile stages in the world. Here in the UK you may have seen him seducing Stephen Fry and Sandy Toksvik in QI, or else firmly slapping down his credentials as a slick, intelligent performer on Live at the Apollo. On the other side of the Atlantic he has appeared on some of the biggest shows around, including The Tonight Show and The David Letterman Show. Still only 29, there are currently rumours proliferating over the web that he is to star in his own US sitcom, which will draw (if the rumours are true) from the circumstances of Noah’s extraordinary life.

As the child of a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa woman in apartheid South Africa, he was, as he puts it, “born a crime”. In the Johannesburg township of Soweto, where he was brought up, the law required him to walk on the opposite side of the road to his father. If a police car approached when he was out walking with his mother, she would drop his hand and temporarily disown him, a response that made him feel, as he says in one of his sets, "like a bag of weed". Of that brand of racism, in that time and place, he reflects with mock wistfulness: “They don’t make it like that anymore…No dogs, no tear-gas.”
  


   

His mixed race status and unique biography supply him with a parapet from which to fire at both casual, unknowing racism at one end of the scale (“If you’re, like, from Africa,’ he was once asked by a cerebrally challenged American surfer girl, “have you, like, ever had Aids?”), and at the other side the kind of tight lipped, racial trepidation we are so good at in the UK. Even the title of his current tour, The Racist, is a challenge to those who are unable or unwilling to think beyond the parameters of political correctness. “I chose that provocative title because I knew that that’s what the show isn’t. I also knew that anyone brave enough to come to a show with that title would be the sort of people I’d want in the audience.”

I spoke to Noah just before he was due to appear at the Cambridge Junction, and a day before he ventures into the Midlands. He is laidback and friendly, articulate and insightful, but behind the apparent casualness I sense great purpose and drive. For a man poised on the edge of global stardom, he is impeccably polite.

Can you start off by telling us a little bit about your tour, The Racist?

The tour is really me doing a show I basically made in Edinburgh. The first time I went to Edinburgh in 2012, I had no clue what it was about and I had no clue what I was going to do there, so I just went there and basically started talking, every day talk a little bit more, and people would laugh a little bit more, and slowly created was has now become a show. I then had the pleasure of taking the show to the Soho in London, did that for a month, and then now I’ve come back and I’m doing other cities, other places, everywhere in the UK, which is great.

That was the longest ever run the Soho Theatre’s had, right?

Yeah, that was fantastic. It was a wonderful thing to have done.

You talk a lot about your background and race relations. How much of your material is consciously political and how much is instinct?

I think its instinct to be honest, because it’s something I notice all the time, something that I always see, that’s always in our world, if that makes sense. As much as people try and turn a blind eye to it, it always rears its end in some shape and form. So it’s always something I’ve noticed, and subconsciously, because of the world I’ve grown up in, I’m always very aware of it.

I was watching an excerpt from one of your documentaries, and you said that you come from a background of poverty. How much of that actually drove you to where you are now? Or is that just incidental?

Oh no, I think that’s incidental. In South Africa most people of colour grew up in poverty, that was our reality, so if anything it’s just part of me, it’s my life, it’s what I’ve lived. And I’m glad I shared it with many people because I didn’t suffer alone. I didn’t think it was suffering at the time, I thought that was normal. Now when I look back I go, ‘Oh we were poor,’ but before I was like, ‘yep, this is life!’ So it’s just part of me, but it’s not what defines me.

Do you find there was a noticeable difference between audiences in the UK and in America?

Oh definitely. American audience want jokes, they don’t have time for you to be coming and giving them your opinion on life, just come up with the jokes or go home. They’re much quicker to want the punch line, they want that, they want it to be delivered; it’s a fast food world, whereas in the UK people are a lot smarter. UK audiences are some of the smartest in the world, they’ve seen comedy for a long time, they have a different approach to it, they want to listen, they want to take something away from the show. American audience don’t mess around when it comes to that. They’ll think you’re preaching if you’re not careful.

I watched you on QI, and you managed to seduce both Stephen Fry and Sandy Toksvik. (see clip below) Do you have that effect on everyone?

No (laughs), I don’t think I do. It was just a fleeting moment in time - that I’ll get to look back on fondly. That was a fantastic moment.



I don’t know if this is so much a question as an observation, but you made the comment at one point that we don’t tell each other how we really feel when it comes to race relations. Certainly in the UK we’re almost afraid to broach the topic, and I think your comedy goes some way towards breaking that down. I think if people were more open, more honest, even if they were expressing slightly dangerous opinions, at least people have a way of arguing back, opening up a discourse...

I always feel the most dangerous thing is to bury it, the most dangerous thing is to act like it’s not there. It starts with very small things, a nodding of the head there, a shaking of the head there, just grows from that. I always feel an open fight is better because you can clear the air and you can move forward from there, and so I guess that’s where I’ve come from, a world where I go, ‘Let’s just talk about things.’ It doesn’t really have to be heavy, it doesn’t even have to be taken seriously, but at least let’s talk about it.

Have you got a career plan? Or are you going to see where life takes you?

Oh no, I’ve never had a plan. I always think plans just set you up for frustration and disappointment. I plan to enjoy myself and I plan to do the best I can at what I’m doing, and then everything else falls into place.

Brilliant. Thank you so much for your time, and having discovered what you’ve done I’m going to be one of your biggest devotees now.

Thank you, that’s an honour. Thank you very much. Have a great weekend.

 

The Racist is on tour in the UK until the end of January 2014  
 
The tour itinerary can be found at Trevor Noah’s website  http://www.trevornoah.com/shows/     
Tickets can be bought at
Dec 12th

Hello Dolly! at Leicester Curve till 19 Jan

By Sue Casson

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Hello, Dolly!

Leicester Curve, extended until 19th January

 

This fun, light-hearted, romantic American musical tells a surprisingly complex tale of romance, matchmaking, a polka dancing competition, hats and a stuffed whale.  Olivier-award winner Janie Dee, as Dolly, is vivacious and charming throughout, creating a warm rapport with her audience, among whom she ventures. The musical numbers are subtly intertwined with the witty, compact, swift-moving dialogue, and Dolly’s descent down the staircase and rendition of the title song, flanked by a chorus of adoring waiters, is superbly realized. Artistic Director Paul Kerryson directs with assurance, bringing out the full humour and timelessness of the story and managing to hit exactly the right note with his audience, who were entranced throughout. The only negative aspect for me was the back-projected images which were, at best, irrelevant and, at worst, a distraction, but fortunately these disappear in the second act. With superb production values, slick, energetic dance numbers and a sprinkling of quieter, touching moments, this is a superbly-realized musical that will not fail to lift the spirits.

Dec 10th

Cinderella - Theatre Royal Nottingham

By GRAHAM CLARK

 CINDERELLA – THEATRE ROYAL, NOTTINGHAM

SATURDAY 8 DECEMBER 2012

 

Cinderella
Cinderella is still one of the most spectacular and romantic pantomimes and this new production which opened in Nottingham on Saturday is no exception.

The show begins with ex 3 Degrees lead vocalist, Sheila Ferguson gliding across the stage suspended on a gold circle. She must be the coolest fairy godmother seen in a panto, with her wit and magical powers she plays the part with relative ease.

Martin Ramsdin and David Robbins play the parts of the ugly sisters with costumes as colourful and cutting as their lines: “You look more like Dolce & Banana than Dolce & Gabana in that dress”. They even manage to incorporate the Lady GaGa track “Born This Way” into their act and keep it current by doing a brief dance to the PSY novelty hit “Gangnam Style”.

Adam C Booth plays a likeable part as Buttons; his style seems to be part Stu Francis and part Billy Pearce.

Aimie Atkinson portraits Cinderella with beauty and innocence. Of course the real star if the show is Eastenders star John Partridge who generates a huge cheer from the audience every time he enters the stage. He seems to be taken aback with the warm welcome, “I could get used to this” he enthuses with the family audience. With his boyish charm and cheeky smile he shone as Prince Charming.

Whilst he might be a newcomer to the panto season The Grumblweeds are old hands at this type of thing. Their comic timing is faultless and their jokes have everyone on their side. Playing the parts of The Brokers Men they managed to include some of their stage act into the show.

Their impersonations of Ali G, Ozzy Osbourne and even the Teletubbies were excellent. Robin Colvill’s send up of Cher was a classic moment with him tottering around the stage in a wig and 6” heels. The duo is still the masters of classic comedy.

The show has brilliant costume changes and is spectacular – complete with a flying horse that flies into the audience as it flies Cinderella to the ball amongst a snowstorm over the audience.

An entertaining show that brightens up these cold dark winter days.

Runs until Sunday 13 January 2013.
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